The Mystics have kept their transtasman league season alive in spectacular fashion, snatching a last-gasp win over a Tactix side that for 59 minutes had the better of their Auckland rivals.
Leading by one goal with 20 seconds on the clock and in possession, the bottom-of-the-table Tactix looked to have claimed their second major scalp of the season. But an off-side call against midcourter Keshia Grant, who looked to have been given a bit of a helping hand into the shooting circle by Laura Langman, gave the Mystics a chance to quickly level the score, with the centre pass to come.
Shell-shocked by the sudden turn of events, the Tactix didn't have the presence of mind to try to slow up the Mystics centre pass, with the visitors again finding Cathrine Latu under the post to nail the winning shot on the stroke of fulltime. It was a crushing result for the Canterbury side, who had led for most of the match and played a better brand of netball than the star-studded Mystics line-up.
While the Mystics were languishing in ninth place on the ladder heading into the match, such is the closeness of the competition that last night's win means they are not yet out of the hunt for a top-four spot.
They're now sixth, just below the Pulse on points differential.
But while they are in touch of the top four, the Mystics' performance last night showed there is still a massive gulf in class between themselves and the competition heavyweights.
While the Tactix are sitting dead last on the points table, when they get their timing and rhythm right, they look one of the better attacking sides in the competition. Last night was one of those nights when everything clicked, with the home side bringing the ball through the court at breakneck speed, while still maintaining their precision.
They balanced that clinical approach with equal amounts of flair, putting in some breathtaking feeds to import shooter Mwai Kumwenda, whose agility in the circle was spectacular to watch. Diminutive midcourter Grant provided some particularly exciting touches, including a memorable over-the-shoulder, no-look pass, while Jade Clarke and Anna Thompson showed impressive vision with their pinpoint feeding from range.
With Kumwenda finishing off well in the circle the frustration began to mount in the Mystics defensive end, with Anna Harrison getting particularly frazzled. The more Harrison remonstrated with the umpires, the more confident the Tactix grew.
But while the Tactix were having a field day on attack, they were unable to put the Mystics under enough defensive pressure consistently to generate sufficient turnover ball to really break free of them. Leading by one at the first break, the Tactix extended their lead out to three or four goals on a couple of occasions, but each times the Mystics clawed them back, reducing the deficit to just one at halftime.
The Tactix managed to eke out a four-goal advantage once again in the third quarter, but the Mystics responded with a desperate surge late in the spell to take a one-goal lead at the final spell.